In 1919 Nancy Astor was elected as the Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton, becoming the first woman MP to take her seat in the House of Commons. Her achievement was all the more remarkable given that women (and even then only some women) had only been entitled to vote for just over a year.
In the past 100 years, a total of 489 women have been elected to Parliament. Yet it was not until 2015 that the total number of women ever elected surpassed the number of male MPs in a single parliament. The achievements of these political pioneers have been remarkable – Britain has now had two female Prime Ministers and women MPs have made significant strides in fighting for gender equality from the earliest suffrage campaigns to Barbara Castle's fight for equal pay to Harriet Harman's recent legislation on the gender pay gap.
Yet the stories of so many women MPs have too often been overlooked in political histories. Join Rachel Reeves MP, author of Women of Westminster: The MPs who changed politics, as she brings many forgotten MPs out of the shadows and looks at the many battles fought by the women of Westminster since 1919.
About the speaker
Rachel Reeves is Labour MP for Leeds West and former Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions. Prior to her parliamentary career, she worked as an economist. She is the author of Women of Westminster: The MPs Who Changed Politics (2019) and Alice in Westminster: The Political Life of Alice Bacon (2017).
The Athena SWAN Charter recognises the advancement of gender equality: representation, progression and success for all.
The University of York was the first Yorkshire university to win the Athena SWAN bronze award in recognition of its success in providing positive support for women scientists during their careers. The university has continued to hold a bronze award since 2006 and is now recognised for work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly.
The University's Departments of Chemistry and Biology hold a gold award. Chemistry was the first academic department in the UK to win an award at this highest level. In addition, the Hull York Medical School and the University of York’s Departments of Psychology and Physics hold silver awards. The following departments and centres all hold bronze awards: Archaeology, Education, English and Related Literature, History, Politics, Electronic Engineering, Health Sciences, Mathematics, Environment, Health Economics.
Image: Viscountess Astor. Credit: Wikimedia Commons